Penalty clauses: the introduction of football’s penalty kick law

Penalty kicks generated fierce opposition when they were first introduced to football in the early 1890s, with amateur players of the day outraged at the implication that any good sportsman would commit a deliberate or “professional” foul. They protested by refusing to score or save them. This article for When Saturday Comes looks at the […]

Football hustlers: British players in America’s first pro soccer league

It was a Victorian football sensation. Five British players – four from Manchester City plus a former teammate now at Sheffield United – were missing, presumed poached by a mysterious foreign agent. “A sudden disappearance!” exclaimed one newspaper. “A Sheffielder taken!” was the headline in another. This 1894 mystery was solved after the players were […]

Arthur Pember: the mermaid hunter who invented association football

The true story of the investigative journalist and mermaid hunter who helped create the rules of soccer. Arthur Pember titillated Victorian New York with his muckraking journalism, but before that he was the first president of the Football Association who set out the Laws of the Game. Read at Howler.

Elephant football: a Victorian football sensation

In the summer of 1899, football’s most famous goalkeeper took on a Sanger’s Circus elephant in what was billed as ‘The Greatest Novelty in the World’ – an elephant-versus-man penalty shoot-out. This is the story of one of the great football sensations of the Victorian era. Published in issue 349 of When Saturday Comes.

Inside out: Britain’s first indoor football league

In the early 1900s, an eccentric scheme to create Britain’s first indoor football league was opposed by the FA and ended in disaster for its protagonists. In the winter of 1905, an American entrepreneur launched an eccentric scheme to create Britain’s first indoor football league. The venue was London’s Olympia, the largest indoor arena in […]

How to become a sporting journalist

My article on the pioneering BJ Evans and his 1946 careers guide / memoir How to Become a Sporting Journalist is in the latest issue of When Saturday Comes. Evans was regarded as a ‘master craftsman of sports journalism’, and his book inspired writers including the late Frank Keating. The book offers an entertaining glimpse […]